Since the election results came in the Hillary Clinton wing of the Democratic Party along with the corporate media have been in full cry over Russia’s supposed interference.
Nick Hanauer, a Seattle-based entrepreneur, has a better explanation of why we ended up with Trump. “The pitchforks are coming, my friends, and whether they come in the angry hands of a desperate mob or the tiny hands of an angry dictator, they’re coming for us. You may not want to believe that your great fortune has come, at least in part, at the expense of others, but the American people believe it. And they’re righteously pissed. So, you have a choice: You can either act now to help close the vast economic divide that is tearing our republic apart—or you can follow Trump’s rhetorical lead and start building huge f*cking walls. The pitchforks are at the gate, and time is running short.”
Hanauer, who I’m going to quote at length, makes a familiar argument to yours truly– economic insecurity does strange things to a society.
“Many smug, wealthy, highly educated liberals like myself (and let’s be honest, like many of you who have been blowing up my phone since the election) have taken to soothing ourselves with the notion that Trump was elected by stupid, racist people. And to some degree, this may be true. But like it or not, in America, even stupid racists have an equal claim to the prosperity, dignity, status and happiness that we urban economic elites hold so dear. Also, they vote. So while we should never pander to their racism, we must face the fact that if our greed prevents them from having their fair shot at happiness, they will most certainly take it from us by force. Parenthetically, I want to make clear that I am not so naïve as to believe that prosperity eliminates racism. It does not. But, it is one hell of a distraction. People who are thriving and hopeful may still be filled with hate, but they don’t have nearly as much reason to act on it.”
Hanauer proceeds to demolish the conventional explanation for the massive inequality in America.
“Many of my peers prefer to hide behind the enduring myth that today’s crisis of economic inequality and insecurity is the result of forces unleashed by unstoppable trends in technology and globalization. “It’s not my fault I have so much while others have so little,” we comfort ourselves, “it’s the economy.” That is nonsense. There’s no intrinsic reason why the social and political changes delivered by technological advances and globalization have to massively concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. We simply exploited changing circumstances to take advantage of people with less power than us.”
Hanauer’s argument needs to be repeated. These were political decisions. The savage inequality that’s leading to a pre-civil war type atmosphere in America was created deliberately by the policies of neoliberalism–massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatization, outsourcing and competition in public services.
“Over the last 40 years, corporate profits as a percentage of GDP have increased from about six percent to about 11 percent, while wages as a percentage of GDP have fallen by about the same amount. That represents about a trillion dollars a year that used to go to wages, but now goes to shareholders and executives. One trick we use to keep profits high and labor costs low is to refuse to schedule workers for the 30-plus hours a week they would need to qualify for benefits. Today, an astonishing 6.4 million involuntary part-time workers are denied the full-time work they seek in order to keep our profit margins high. You can call that “the market” or you can call that “stealing,” but from the point of view of a disgruntled worker it amounts to the same thing. How could they not be angry?”
Free-market apostles like Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, claimed that unleashing the animal-spirits of the “makers”would benefit all of America with a torrent of wealth that would invariably trickle down.
This was also the argument of the neoliberals. “Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.”
Of course, all these arguments were nothing more that cover story for the biggest heist in history. Free-market economic nostrums, or neoliberalism, or whatever you want to call it, was always about justifying the policies the rich and powerful wanted all along.
The travails of empires at the end of their days have been well recorded by historians. The common denominator in all of the stories is that empires fail when the elite go rogue. We are at that point in America. From palatial homes in coastal enclaves, to prestigious boarding schools, to the private planes that allow them to bypass the terror theater the rest of us are stuck with the elite in America might as well live on a different planet.
Maybe you better sharpen that pitchfork.